Local Robotics Team Helps STEM Take Center Stage
Submitted By Andy Li & Kyle Huang
Picture the scene. A field filled with students surrounding a bucket of French fries. They’re cheering wildly, watching with anticipation as a little robot quickly moves back and forth, trying to grab as many of the golden French fries as possible within the time limit. One student even uses the robot to bring fries to a security guard. This activity, created in partnership with Whataburger for the CORE 4 STEM event sponsored by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is one of the many amazing activities developed by Team MAKbots to spread their love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) as ambassadors of FIRST.
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an organization that inspires young students of all age levels to generate an interest in STEM through fun and interactive robotics programs. Every year, FIRST releases the robot challenge game in the beginning of September, and each robotics team spends four to five months building and perfecting a robot that can complete the tasks required by the robot game. In December, the competition starts.
This season, MAKbots, a local robotics team based in the Stone Oak area, successfully competed at the Alamo FTC Regionals Competition. The team placed high in the robot game portion as the Winning Alliance, and also won the prestigious Motivate Award, which recognizes the efforts poured in to promoting STEM throughout the community, encouraging students to pursue and learn about STEM. MAKbots success at the local and area competition also allowed the team to advance to the FTC South Super Regional competition, which features teams from 12 states across America.
However, competing in the robot game is not the only thing the team does as proud participants of FIRST. As a veteran team with over six years of experience, MAKbots has benefitted tremendously by engaging in this fun and educational program. Team members have learned everything from mechanical building, electric wiring, and programming skills, to well-rounded life skills including self-esteem and confidence, communication, and leadership. In their FIRST Tech Challenge competition, MAKbots effectively applied these skills, and are now more determined than ever to share their experience and knowledge with the community.
During the summer of 2017, MAKbots partnered with the Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. and Igo and Parman libraries, organizing multiple free robotics summer camps for elementary and middle school students in San Antonio. Toyota and the libraries provided the team with the facilities and materials, while team members provided personnel, curriculum and expertise. The camps focused on basic engineering concepts, programming skills, gracious professionalism, and teamwork through building robots and team-building exercises.
Another event the team is quite proud of is the Coaches’ Clinic organized by FIRST in Texas (http://firstintexas.org/) at Tex Hill Middle School last fall. MAKbots was invited for the second time to teach the FIRST Lego League coaches and mentors, made up of primarily elementary and middle school teachers, the basics and advanced skills in Lego Mindstorms programming.
Team MAKbots consists of 11 students from grades 9-11. This season, their goal is to learn, innovate, inspire, appreciate, and advance while having fun. Each team member works to achieve his or her fullest potential and strives to learn together, as a team, as well as individuals. Furthermore, they dedicate their time and energy to bringing positive results as a tribute to all of their mentors, fellow FTC teams, sponsors, and others that have supported them throughout our journey. As they continue to be connectors, mentors, ambassadors, and promoters of FIRST and STEM, they aim to continue inspiring and motivating others to pursue what they love and to embrace the family within STEM.